Riot Baby (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


There's much to this tiny book. In just short of 175 pages, Onyebuchi powerfully depicts the deep-rooted and perpetual racism and inhumanity of America's past, present and speculative dystopian future, while also advocating for love, freedom, and hope through the characters of preternaturally gifted Ella and her younger brother Kev. Born in 1992 Los Angeles, just hours after the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted and the city erupted in violence, Kev is a "Riot Baby," who, as a teenager in New York, the police assault and arrest for no crime but being black. While Kev is imprisoned, Ella, possessing strong supernatural powers, helps him realize the promise of freedom and a revolutionary future.

— Alyssa

Description


Riot Baby, Onyebuchi's first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds."—The New York Times

"Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether."—Marlon James


Ella has a Thing. She sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse. A neighbor's son murdered in a drive-by shooting. Things that haven't happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands.

Rooted in the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is as much an intimate family story as a global dystopian narrative. It burns fearlessly toward revolution and has quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are both shockingly human and immeasurably powerful. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by racism. Their futures might alter the world.

“[Tochi] Onyebuchi has woven a story as uplifting as it is heartbreaking, an epic ode to the future and past, tiny acts of resistance, love, and the wild unstoppable sweep of revolution.”—Daniel José Older

About the Author


Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of the young adult novel Beasts Made of Night, which won the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African, its sequel, Crown of Thunder, and War Girls. He holds a B.A. from Yale, a M.F.A. in screenwriting from the Tisch School fo the Arts, a Master's degree in droit économique from Sciences Po, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. His fiction has appeared in Panverse Three, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Obsidian, Omenana Magazine, Uncanny, and Lightspeed. His non-fiction has appeared in Tor.com, Nowhere Magazine, the Oxford University Press blog, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among other places.

Praise For…


“Onyebuchi’s voice work is magnificent, sharp and whipping. . . . This book recognizes that intimate knowledge of suffering can be a source of strength, can be sustaining as well as depressing — that we can grieve the inheritance of generations of ancestors’ pain while marveling at their endurance, and recognize that resilience as part of their legacy."—The New York Times

"Urgent, brutal. . . . Onyebuchi’s unexpectedly hopeful ending is just as powerful as his unflinching, heartbreaking depictions of racism and cruelty. This staggering story is political speculative fiction at its finest."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Onyebuchi sheds light on a world of harsh familiarity and fantastical originality with his incredible worldbuilding and devastating prose. Stark, sharp, and brutal, this story will burn in readers' minds long after the last page."—Library Journal, starred review

"There is a richness and depth to Onyebuchi's prose that delivers an intricate and textured world at once rife with violence and teeming with familial love. . . . Onyebuchi demonstrates that dystopia for African-Americans in the U.S. resides in the recent past and continues today."—Booklist

"A thrilling, intense, nail-biting read that transcends genre and has an ending of biblical proportions."—Grimdark Magazine

"Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether."—Marlon James

“Onyebuchi has woven a story as uplifting as it is heartbreaking, an epic ode to the future and past, tiny acts of resistance, love, and the wild unstoppable sweep of revolution.”—Daniel José Older

"Tochi Onyebuchi is, primarily, a generous world-builder. His journey into this is honed and sharpened with Riot Baby, which asks a reader to care deeply for the interior of its characters, and the fights they have taken on."—Hanif Abdurraqib

"Riot Baby is the burning embers of a revolution. . . the quiet rage of generations of people who have been told they are lesser than others. It’s the flash of accelerant in a genre that needs the burn."—Mark Oshiro

"Onyebuchi welds a graphic novel sensibility to a searing look at structural inequity in America today. This isn't Jack Womack or J.G. Ballard's broken near future: it's our own photorealistic broken present. Riot Baby is an important book."—Elizabeth Bear

"Stunningly original, brutal, and electric. Onyebuchi’s prose scorches. It’s hard to put this book down, and when you do, it stays with you."—R. F. Kuang

"Onyebuchi's adult debut is a stunningly, vitally harrowing story and genre at its very best."—Kiersten White

"Onyebuchi's Riot Baby is thrilling and harrowing in the tradition of Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing."—Fran Wilde

"Powerful. Furious. Riot Baby carries the full weight of black American fury and grief, woven together with a masterful story of two siblings and a magic so powerful it will change the face of everything they know."—K. B. Wagers



Product Details
ISBN: 9781250214751
ISBN-10: 1250214750
Publisher: Tor.com
Publication Date: January 21st, 2020
Pages: 176